‘I’m anti-Christmas but my son loves it’ | kek mama

At the end of June I’m sitting behind my laptop – in a bikini with a rose in my hand – when suddenly a dancing green Christmas elf shows up on Facebook. He happily indicates that there are ‘only 25 Fridays’ until Christmas. I immediately get stressed. I feel like we’ve just had that misery with all the hysteria surrounding it, according to the man in tights, it’s (almost) right around the corner. 25 Fridays sounds alarmingly close and as the mother of an eight-year-old who bounces with excitement all December, I’d like to postpone that for a while. He doesn’t, he loves it. What also doesn’t help is a grandmother who has a Christmas tree in full costume all year round, because she is completely addicted to the atmosphere.

December violence

As far as I’m concerned, we don’t have to spread all that December violence over the whole year. But that seems to be happening more and more. Not just in our family. It actually starts in mid-August when those damned gingerbread cookies are in the supermarket and the first toy guides fall on the mat. Son Callum, eight years old, immediately throws himself into the guides, circles every Lego box and every football attribute, and then cuts out the pictures and sticks them on a large sheet that can be placed on the refrigerator door. So that we at least know in good time what he wants for St. and Christmas.

The starting shot

Not to mention the Piet discussion that actually rages non-stop all year round and pushes you as a parent into such a split that sometimes at home it is about the many shapes of Piet for weeks. But the real starting gun will go off here in November, with Sint Maarten. In the evening on November 11, we will pass the houses with lanterns to sing songs in exchange for sweets. It’s only one night, but Callum’s been nervous about it all week. Walking down the street in the dark is simply thrilling and it is a competition with the neighborhood children: who has managed to score the most and tastiest things? When that tension has disappeared and his sugar level has fallen somewhat again, Saint Nicholas arrives in the country. Even though Callum has recently become a non-believer, the saintly man doesn’t leave him completely cold either.

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The Big Problem

In any case, he has been deeply involved for years with the ups and downs of the missing parcel boat, the sunken presents, the stolen staff and the gray hair of Dieuwertje Blok. Sometimes he gets out of bed up to three times in the night to propose solutions to the Big Problem of It Sinterklaas news. And then, of course, all Saints’ arrivals and visits to the various sports clubs, school, the work of grandpa, mom and dad as well as in all supermarkets and restaurants must be visited. Plus shoes are put on and stuffed (“I know you do that Mom, but it’s just so much fun”) and lavish Christmas Eve celebrations with his cousins. Of course I enjoy his expectant, happy face and I play along enthusiastically throughout the game, but it is stressful and busy at the same time. And then it’s only December 6th and the whole jingle hell that Christmas is yet to come.

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Crazy about Christmas

My aversion to Christmas doesn’t help with surviving the December month either. I just don’t like pine trees, Christmas sweaters and fake snow. Personally, I think it’s due to an overkill in my childhood. My mother – the one who owns the permanent Christmas tree – has been so crazy about Christmas for years that the Sky Radio Christmas app is on her phone by default. Her collection of Christmas CDs could fill many a record store and she owns 241 versions of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas (no joke). As a child, the whining about that white Christmas and those chestnuts on the open fire made me go gallic. My mother, on the other hand, was annoyed that I had not adopted her Christmas gene and often expressed her displeasure about this: ‘Why are you so sober?’

Well, of course I’m not against socializing. I think it’s fine to have a nice meal together on December 25 and 26 and spend an afternoon at Settlers, but why all the fuss about it? Why spend a month singing the day when we actually do nothing more than overeat? Why look forward to two days of Christmas dinner and gourmet, when restaurants and supermarkets raise their prices to such an extent that we could easily have eaten out for a week for that money at another time?


For a few years now, my mother has come to terms with the fact that her daughter is anti-Christmas and her son-in-law doesn’t care: whether or not a Christmas decoration is on the table, whether or not there are angels, stars and snowmen on the wall. That’s because she’s found a beloved new victim: her grandson. Callum finds all that kitsch and shine & glam awesome. You can do him no greater pleasure than taking him to one of the many Christmas markets in the various garden centers. She likes to do that. Invariably he comes home at the end of the day with one (or two, or three) Christmas balls for the tree. So the tree I don’t have. I haven’t done Christmas decorations since I moved into my room. Motherhood hasn’t changed that. Very sorry for Callum, so Grandma continues to supply him with balls and kitschy snow houses and music boxes with skating reindeer, in the hope that one day he will give in.

To defend myself and my bare house a bit: we are never home for Christmas. At that time, my husband, son and I are in a house in a bungalow park. With my parents. I save myself the trouble of an embellished house where there is no one to enjoy it. So my mother isn’t home either, but that doesn’t stop her from taking a tree. Because in addition to the permanent artificial tree and the spruce that she always has placed in the bungalow park, a Nordmann will also come into the house at the end of November, which has to be hung from head to toe. Preferably every year in a different theme or color that hurts your eyes. It makes me psychedelic when I look at it.

‘I have to participate in the race’

December is just not my favorite calendar month because of all this hysteria and its effect on my son. I would prefer to go into hiding somewhere on a subtropical island at the end of the year or fall into a deep hibernation, but that is not possible with a child. I have to participate in the race, because I don’t want an outsider who is not allowed to participate in anything. So I commit myself to school and I think along about winter themes, I bump into all possible shops where children can pick up a free gift and I watch for the twentieth time home alone.


Fortunately, I also have supporters. Friends with children and mothers at school I hear exactly the same sigh in December: if only it was January. Because of course it is all very cosy: the decorated shop windows, the lights, the Sinterklaas news, the special school days, the dozens of entrances and Christmas activities at clubs and work, the school Christmas dinner, the Sunday shopping, oliebollen, seven toppers and stars, and the Top 2000. is all very much. And exciting. And energy guzzling. And it all does little good for something as essential as a good night’s sleep. Especially in the period when only sleep can help my child to pull all those festivities and he can’t sleep because of all the emotions. Because that is also my experience: as much as my son thinks the whole party scene is great, it is very overwhelming and intensely tiring.

Styling teams and prom dresses

It all has to be more and more extreme and more over the top. For example, the Christmas dinner at school in my youth was just a cozy meeting in the classroom, with a red Christmas cloth on the table, sausages on a skewer and as a highlight a Viennetta ice cream cake. Nowadays it is no longer possible to book a children’s hairdresser in the week prior to the dinner party, because everyone needs a new Christmas haircut. A neat shirt is no longer sufficient as party wear; girls go in real prom dresses with lipstick and blow-dried haircuts, boys in shirt with tie and chinos. The decoration of the classes is taken care of by the styling team at school.

Fathers don a waiter’s costume and serve the children hors-d’oeuvres and other snacks from silver dishes. We as parents are expected to provide culinary input for this. In group one I thought I could get away with a raw vegetable mix on a nice plate. Some cucumber slices, snack tomatoes and carrots: Callum’s favorite snack. That was a miss. I was utterly embarrassed with my meager pile of greens. Other parents wouldn’t have been able to get rid of it so easily. There were quiches, asparagus in ham, cheese skewers with different kinds of olives and vegetarian lasagnes. Cucumber could have been fine, but then artfully cut into a Christmas tree. The fact that Callum hadn’t eaten a bite of all those culinary delights and that I warmed up macaroni in the evening is of course another story. The following year I looked a lot better with my fruit salad in a hollowed-out pineapple with homemade chocolate mousse.

All those drinks

But apart from all the childhood hysteria, I also find it quite intense. All those drinks. As a freelance journalist, at the end of the year, I receive several invitations from the magazines for which I write to raise a glass of bubbly. Usually I think in advance against the hassle with a babysitter and navigating between all possible other appointments, but once in my party dress with the bubbles I am having a great time and I am one of the last to leave. Which automatically brings me back to the fatigue aspect of December.

Totally in the Christmas spirit

I can understand that I come across as sour and whiny. Do I really like nothing at all? Am I really as level-headed as my surroundings, with my mother in the lead, reason? That’s not too bad. This year we celebrate Christmas decadently on a mountain in Canada. Where – in the tradition of Bing Crosby – treetops glisten, there is plenty of snow, so we sled down the mountain and eat turkey. And that – far from home, without distraction and with the blissful feeling of spending the Christmas days skiing – seems beautiful and relaxed and completely in the Christmas spirit. My Christmas thought.

This article was featured in the Kek Mama Winter Book 2019.

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